Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reflections on the Goal of This Blog

I have a goal for this blog that I have recently come to realize. At first I started blogging simply because I love to write and wanted a space to share what I write with anyone who may be interested. Then a readership, per se, emerged, that are mostly those who come from a very different way of seeing the world with a few who share much of my worldview mixed in.


I have contemplated on numerous occasions exactly what my goal was in writing to this readership. The love for writing remains a strong reason for maintaining this blog, but I feel another purpose is emerging and within that purpose there is no primary goal of converting anyone to Christ. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to see people come to know Him, that is ever present in my heart, but the goal of this site is not to that end.


The goal at this point is to foster a safe place for the exchange of ideas either between faith groups or between theism and atheism or whatever other worldviews people bring to the table. I may be overly optimistic, but I think that my primary and hopefully attainable goal is to effectuate understanding of each other and that goal is measured by the other person feeling and agreeing they have been understood.


To illustrate, if I am discussing a point and I have misrepresented the belief system I am addressing then I want to be corrected by those of the belief system I inadvertently erred in depicting. I ask a lot of questions and ought to ask more than I do in order to fully understand worldviews that are not my own. I have a long way to go, because I am still told I set up straw man arguments and thus my goal has not been met on my end.


Of course, while I hope that others would also continue to understand my point of view and worldview in the way and fairness I want to understand theirs, the burden of doing this is on me. I cannot impose my goal on anyone else so even if people don’t want to strive to get to the place where I feel I can say you get me then that’s alright with me.


I am not seeking to remove diversity of thought, but to welcome it and understand it. My goal at is not effectuate agreement, but understanding. In that quest there will be as there has been discussion about the plausibility or veracity of truth claims, but that is done not to win an argument, but to gain understanding of not only what that worldview is about, but how it lines up with what I see as real about the world. I measure one against the other to see which seems to have more merit, but that’s just part of my method of understanding and analyzing. I am a very analytical person. I analyze my own presuppositions and worldview all the time, my husband can attest to this.


Anyone who wants to help me in my quest to understand their worldview whatever it may be can feel free to let me know when I am fairly representing their view or when something is in error. Now at times I will repeat questions or assertions because I am still not quiet getting it because through my worldview it’s not adding up and it is not easy to see through another’s eyes. When this happens I just persevere more.


Usually signs of my point of view not being understood is when someone gives rebuttal to something that may be often said or often misrepresented by others in my worldview group, but is not congruent with what I actually was meaning. So I’ll often take another stab at it to a level that may get redundant because I feel an obligation on my part to be as clear as possible to allow for understanding of what I mean. So if I feel I’m not understood I will work harder at this even if the person isn’t interested in understanding me. I think that’s my personal duty to try again to be clear regardless of the others interest. Maybe someone else will come along and benefit from the attempt.


Sorry to ramble so in getting this out, but the goal of my blog has been on my mind a lot lately. To summarize, my goal is to foster understanding between worldviews and that goal is actualized when the other person feels I have understood them, not when I claim to have understanding. My self proclamation of understanding would be meaningless if multiple representatives of that worldview do not agree. Even then I do not seek to ever self-proclaim such a thing.


I appreciate feedback on whether this goal is seen to be too optimistic or if it is seen to be attainable. Also I would like to know if anyone shares this desire to really get into the minds of others who don’t think like ourselves and understand them. Moreover, what practical ways could this be accomplished?

23 comments:

GCT said...

"To illustrate, if I am discussing a point and I have misrepresented the belief system I am addressing then I want to be corrected by those of the belief system I inadvertently erred in depicting."

What about when you misrepresent non-beliefs?

"I analyze my own presuppositions and worldview all the time, my husband can attest to this."

I'm calling BS on this. How often do you wonder whether god exists at all?

"I appreciate feedback on whether this goal is seen to be too optimistic or if it is seen to be attainable. Also I would like to know if anyone shares this desire to really get into the minds of others who don’t think like ourselves and understand them. Moreover, what practical ways could this be accomplished?"

It is too optimistic for you. First, one thing that you don't realize is that those of us on the other side of the fence generally started on your side of the fence. We understand you quite easily, because we used to be there.

Second, you will never "understand" us until you really are willing and able to shed your assumptions and hold them up to scrutiny. I've seen just about zero evidence that you are willing to do this (it probably is zero, but I didn't want to speak absolutely).

If you really want to start, you have to come at things with the mindset that maybe the god assumption is not correct. Maybe your assumptions about what this god must be are not correct. Maybe your denials of science are not correct. Etc. Until you can admit that you are not infallible in your assumptions and beliefs, you will get nowhere. (And, I feel as if I've told you this before.)

Karla said...

GCT "What about when you misrepresent non-beliefs?"

That too.

GCT "I'm calling BS on this. How often do you wonder whether god exists at all?"

About as often as I wonder if my husband is real. God's existence isn't an assumption of mine, but experiential knowledge backed up by logical and reasoned evidence.


GCT "It is too optimistic for you. First, one thing that you don't realize is that those of us on the other side of the fence generally started on your side of the fence. We understand you quite easily, because we used to be there."

I know most of you were once believers in God, but I still see a discrepancy between what I am talking about and the meaning you seem to gather from what I am saying.

GCT "Second, you will never "understand" us until you really are willing and able to shed your assumptions and hold them up to scrutiny."

I don't believe one has to stand in anothers shoes to comprehend their intellectual propositions on a subject. Nor do I need to stand in another's shoes to listen to their heart about it.

However, there is a degree of knowledge (experiential) that I cannot ever take on without standing in the shoes of an atheists, but that would be beyond the level of understanding I am aiming for.

I was asking if people thought it possible to understand other peoples worldview even while disagreements of its validity remain?

CyberKitten said...

I'm afraid that until you recognise at least the possibility that God does not exist you'll never fully understand our position.

cl said...

Karla,

You said, "Also I would like to know if anyone shares this desire to really get into the minds of others who don’t think like ourselves and understand them. Moreover, what practical ways could this be accomplished?"

I share the desire. As far as "practical ways this could be accomplished," I've come to accept that much of it is "up in the air," as they say. Much of it depends on the person, too. Some people are just bent on disagreement, no matter what. Their inability to understand you reveals no shortcoming on your behalf. Others are able to reach common ground. We can learn from both.

MS Quixote said...

Karla,

You're achieving most, if not all, of your aims in the OP. It's rare to meet someone with your patience and willingness to entertain constant disagreement--not that that's a bad thing, it's just tiring--and to forge through frequent abuse. My hat's off to you...carry on.

cl said...

"..it's just tiring.."

I second that!

GCT said...

"About as often as I wonder if my husband is real. God's existence isn't an assumption of mine..."

I rest my case.

"...but experiential knowledge backed up by logical and reasoned evidence."

What logical and reasoned evidence? You've presented none.

"I know most of you were once believers in God, but I still see a discrepancy between what I am talking about and the meaning you seem to gather from what I am saying."

Um, no. What you are seeing is that we are pointing out the flaws and inconsistencies with your views (which we used to share with you BTW) and you are denying that those issues exist by claiming that we simply don't understand. Like I've said before, we understand you quite easily and quite well.

"I don't believe one has to stand in anothers shoes to comprehend their intellectual propositions on a subject. Nor do I need to stand in another's shoes to listen to their heart about it."

No, you don't have to be an atheist to understand atheism, and that's not what I'm talking about. What I'm saying is that you hold certain things inviolate and form all your thoughts and answers around those assumptions, meaning that you can not relate to those who don't hold your assumptions.

Karla said...

Thanks for the feed back everyone.

GCT, after more than a year of dialog you still tell me I have presented NO evidence. That doesn't seem a credible statement to me.

GCT said...

"GCT, after more than a year of dialog you still tell me I have presented NO evidence. That doesn't seem a credible statement to me."

Ah, yes, because length of time is equal to evidence, right? Yes, it's been a while, and you've not deviated from unsupported assumptions to supported arguments. I'm not going to lie and claim that you have or even lie by omission by acting as if you have and not saying anything.

Present some now then. If you feel you've presented evidence, then it shouldn't be too hard to simply reference an argument from before. Unfortunately for you, however, you don't actually have any evidence for god. Hey, don't feel too bad. People have been trying to give evidence for god for many, many years before you, and none have succeeded yet.

GCT said...

BTW, if we talk about length of time equaling evidence, how long do we have to converse before you'll claim you've proven your point? Why is this not reciprocated? At what point do I get to claim that we've conversed long enough that all my points are evidenced or proven? Hopefully you can see why your comment was fallacious now.

cl said...

"People have been trying to give evidence for god for many, many years before you, and none have succeeded yet." (GCT)

Like his "what have we learned from religion" trope before it, the whole "there's no evidence for God" thing is just another rhetorical device. In truth, there are many phenomena consistent with what we would expect were God and/or the supernatural real. The correct version of GCT's statement is that nobody's presented evidence GCT is willing to accept - and there's a huge difference.

CyberKitten said...

cl said: In truth, there are many phenomena consistent with what we would expect were God and/or the supernatural real.

Such as..............

Karla said...

GCT, both of us have given evidence. Giving evidence doesn't mean one has to agree with the conclusion. A prosecuting attorney can put on a lot of evidence regarding the guilt of the defendant and the jury can still not find the defendant guilty. They don't say no evidence was presented, they say they still have doubt despite the evidence. There is a big difference.

I have given evidence, but you don't accept the conclusions I draw from that evidence. And that's your prerogative, but please stop saying I haven't given any.

Also, I wrote that my goal at this time is to foster understanding not agreement.

GCT said...

"GCT, both of us have given evidence."

Wrong. See my response in the other thread. Summary: you have to resort to logical fallacy to have "evidence" for god. You can't logically connect your "evidence" to what you claim it means.

If I were to claim that the existence of Jupiter is evidence of invisible, pink unicorns, what would you say to that? Given what you just said, I think you would have to agree with me that it is evidence for IPU.

"Giving evidence doesn't mean one has to agree with the conclusion."

You have to show a logical train that leads to the conclusion however. I can't very well say that skinning my knee is evidence that steak is tasty.

"A prosecuting attorney can put on a lot of evidence regarding the guilt of the defendant and the jury can still not find the defendant guilty."

Because the prosecuting attorney needs to meet a certain burden of proof, much as the theist does. In this case, the atheist is not guilty.

"They don't say no evidence was presented, they say they still have doubt despite the evidence. There is a big difference."

Good point, but it's apples and oranges. The prosecuting attorney has to link the defendant to the evidence in order for it to be evidence. The PA can't simply claim that she found tissues in the apartment of the murder victim, so therefore the defendant is guilty.

"I have given evidence, but you don't accept the conclusions I draw from that evidence."

You have done no such thing, unless you think that saying, "Humans exist" somehow counts as evidence for god. It does not.

"And that's your prerogative, but please stop saying I haven't given any."

Once you logically connect the dots I will. Until then, you're tilting at windmills.

"Also, I wrote that my goal at this time is to foster understanding not agreement."

Yeah, and you are failing, as your comments continually show. You still don't understand the first thing about atheism. You're still trying to claim that we definitively assert that no god exists and can not exist, etc, as I pointed out in the other thread. This is rubbish, and I'd be embarrassed if I were you to have been corrected on this and many other things multiple times, continue to re-assert the same crapola, and then turn around and claim that you are trying to understand us (or foster understanding or whatever). How can you say that with a straight face?

Karla said...

GCT "Good point, but it's apples and oranges."

Good point? Really? I've never heard you say anything that positive before even though you qualified it.

cl said...

Sorry in advance, but I'm gonna jump in here, just once:

"You're still trying to claim that we definitively assert that no god exists and can not exist, etc, as I pointed out in the other thread. This is rubbish, and I'd be embarrassed if I were you to have been corrected on this and many other things multiple times, continue to re-assert the same crapola, and then turn around and claim that you are trying to understand us (or foster understanding or whatever). How can you say that with a straight face?"

How can you say any of that with a straight face? All you ever do is talk down to and belittle Karla. Is the fact that she thinks differently than you any reason to withhold basic respect from another human being? Is that what your atheism is all about? Talking down to others and making yourself sound like such a big, scholarly boy?

When and if Karla is wrong about something, it's nothing to be embarrassed about. The one who's failing at understanding around here is you, because you're not here to understand. You're here to be right and establish what you think are the superiority of your own views, when in full reality you're just as helpless as the rest of us.

Lastly, if there's no set worldview for atheists, then why are you trying to tell Karla that she's mistaken about what "atheists" believe? Some atheists do definitively assert that there is no God.

GCT said...

"Good point? Really? I've never heard you say anything that positive before even though you qualified it."

And that proves that you don't actually read what I write. I'll also note that you seem to have ignored the whole rest of the comment.

GCT said...

And, since there seems to be confusion about my comment about being embarrassed. I realize that some people struggle here with reading comprehension and cl is either one of them or is intentionally trying to misrepresent my comment. Either way, I've noticed that Karla seems to have trouble with reading comprehension when she sees something from cl that confirms what she wants to see, so I should probably clarify, even though the original comment was pretty clear.

Karla, what you should be embarrassed about is getting information from us, ignoring it, then claiming that you are trying to get information from us. I'm not saying you should be embarrassed for being wrong, but for being hypocritical.

Karla said...

GCT, I'm going to choose to continue to be patient with you, but your last post affirms the reason CL posted his comment.

CL has not done anything to warrant my asking him to cease commenting here, you don't have to respond to him, but he is welcome here.

I choose to believe the best about people and I have not experienced your complaints about CL and I'm sure your not putting forth evidence of your own testimony.

GCT said...

"GCT, I'm going to choose to continue to be patient with you, but your last post affirms the reason CL posted his comment."

Ah, so you support his lack of reading comprehension? You're not doing so well with the intellectual honesty today are you?

"CL has not done anything to warrant my asking him to cease commenting here, you don't have to respond to him, but he is welcome here."

Um, and? What does this have to do with anything?

"I choose to believe the best about people and I have not experienced your complaints about CL and I'm sure your not putting forth evidence of your own testimony."

You've not asked for it and I've seen no reason to present it. I could dig some up if you would prefer.

Never-the-less, his assessment of what I said was completely wrong. What he posted has not been affirmed, as what he said was wrong. If you can't see that, then I'm sorry but you are not fit to talk about the supposed goals that these comments are in response to. How can you possibly defend either bad or intentional misinterpretation in the guise of supposedly trying to foster understanding and learning? Is it OK for someone to intentionally twist someone's words so long as you disagree with the person being used so? How pathetic. I know you aren't a man, but I'll be crass anyway and say, "Grow a pair." Start thinking for yourself. Start acting with integrity. Stop recycling old arguments that have been refuted. Stop tarring us atheists with your preconceptions that have already been corrected. Stop relying on cl to do your intellectual heavy lifting and misinterpreting everyone else's comments (heavy lifting? Hardly - and that's sad.) When you have to rely on lies and deceit, twisting words, and mangling arguments, semantic and rhetorical tricks, then you're in trouble. You can't defend your god without resorting to logical fallacies and dishonest rhetoric, yet you shouldn't have to do so if your god really is real. Too bad you've chosen a god that is impossible, forcing you to rely on bad rhetoric.

Karla said...

GCT, this is a warning, you've crossed the line this time. Please refrain from doing it again.

I think you know what I meant regarding cl, I was not saying anything at all against him in my comment.

I have also defended you to cl in this forum several times so you can see that I am not against those I disagree with and I have demonstrated that I will confront a theist regarding their respect of the atheists before ever confronting an atheists about it. This room is designed to be a safe place for those who aren't Christians to ask questions and dialog.

I don't think Cyber or Mike have expressed any thing to me that indicates I have not followed through in creating a safe space for dialog.

GCT said...

"GCT, this is a warning, you've crossed the line this time. Please refrain from doing it again."

Which part? What line have you crossed by being blatantly dishonest? And, for the record, I find it blatantly dishonest for you to claim that you seek understanding and learning and then recycle the crap about beginnings of universes, which has been long debunked and pointed out to you. Where is your shame? Is it all right for you to lie so long as you are doing it for Jebus?

"I think you know what I meant regarding cl, I was not saying anything at all against him in my comment."

No, I don't know what you mean, because I never said that you said anything against him, nor did I ask you to. I also never asked for you to do anything with him or to him.

"I don't think Cyber or Mike have expressed any thing to me that indicates I have not followed through in creating a safe space for dialog."

I think propagating lies and mischaracterizations is contrary to your statement above. If you want to rah rah cl while he maligns my comments by quote mining me, then that's your prerogative, but don't pretend it's honest or conducive to safe (intellectually honest) dialog. (And, yes, he has quote mined me in the above tirade that you agreed with, as I point out, just as he was quote mining me before with the questions about morality, that you whole-heartedly went along with even after I repeatedly pointed out the quote mine.)

cl said...

My apologies. This merits another comment:

GCT,

"..[cl] has quote mined me in the above tirade that [Karla] agreed with," (GCT)

Where is this quote-mine?

"..his assessment of what I said was completely wrong. What he posted has not been affirmed, as what he said was wrong." (GCT)

You affirm what I posted every time you belittle, insult and/or talk down to Karla.

"GCT, I'm going to choose to continue to be patient with you, but your last post affirms the reason CL posted his comment." (Karla)

"Ah, so you support his lack of reading comprehension?" (GCT)

Talk about misrepresenting people's arguments! Karla said nothing about supporting anyone's lack of reading comprehension, yet you took her words and ran with them, to make them convey what you wanted them to!